Fans of the 105-year-old Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup live by its magic moments. And the Quarterfinal Round of the 2018 competition tossed up a good few of those on July 18. Join ussoccer.com for a look back at eight moments of note from the games, in which Tony Tchani really got under Louisville City’s skin, early goals fell in Pennsylvania and Texas (heralding very different results) and Marco Ureña finally scored for LAFC on a night that averaged four goals per game over the four games.
- READ MORE: Quarterfinal Recap - Fire, Union, Houston & LAFC Make Final Four
- READ MORE: Philadelphia & Houston Drawn to Host #USOC2018 Semifinals
Just Another Brick in the Wall
There are walls and then there are walls. Such was Sporting Kansas City’s respect for what Romell Quioto could do with a dead-ball 21 yards out, they committed eight players to try and block him. Add in three Houston Dynamo players and you might have been treated to the biggest wall in the 105-year-history of the Open Cup (unofficial of course as weird things happen in USOC). In the end, size didn’t matter as the Honduran ripped a dart up and over the construction and past time Tim Melia into the top corner. One wonders what the height of Ike Opara (out with injury) might have brought to the party – or the instincts of captain Matt Besler (also missing). And did the SKC players ever consider stacking all those bricks one on top of the other? Now that would be weird.
(Dynamo's Romell Quioto v. The Wall)
Blake’s Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Philadelphia Union were up 1-0 and in firm control mid-way through the second half when goalkeeper Andre Blake decided to give the home fans a heart-attack. Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer was bearing down on Blake with hungry eyes and the time to play the ball to a teammate’s feet had passed. Suddenly, the time to clear the ball into the Delaware River had passed too. It looked like the 27-year-old net-minder was in deep, deep trouble, before he dipped his shoulder and pushed the ball past Dwyer with the outside of his boot and tip-toed out of the tall weeds. Blake grew up playing on the field, as a forward in fact, in his native Jamaica – and it’s a good thing he did for all those palpitating Union fans in Chester, PA.
Goals, Goals & More Goals
The four Quarterfinal games produced an astonishing 16 goals. For those amateur arithmetic wizards out there, that’s four goals per game and proof, as if any were still needed, that the Open Cup is a tournament for the goal-hungry among us. The Western half of the Last Eight bracket was particularly productive as LAFC battled to a 3-2 win over the Portland Timbers and defending champs Sporting Kansas City were put to the sword 4-2 on the road against Houston Dynamo. Out East, Chicago put four unanswered past Louisville City, while Philadelphia kept it polite with a dainty 1-0 win over Orlando City. Only one game in this edition of America’s oldest soccer tournament has finished goalless through 90 minutes of regular time and 30 more of extra time – and that is a matter between FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United and the Soccer Gods.
(Four-time USOC champs Chicago Fire pout four past Louisville City)
Only the Real Thing for Ureña
Goals have been hard to come by since Marco Ureña joined up with first-year Major League Soccer club LAFC. The fans, patient and supportive through serious injuries and international duty, were ready to roar on his first strike at Banc of California Stadium midway through the first half against the Portland Timbers. But the Costa Rican international striker, who lined up in Russia for the Ticos at this summer’s World Cup, refused to celebrate. He only shook his head, the first to realize he never touched a ball that went straight in off the head of David Guzman. For an ace veteran goal-getter like Ureña, only the real thing would do. And it came in the 51st minute when he popped up at the back post to poke the ball home. He celebrated this time, with relief on his face, and the crowd gave him all the love they’d been storing up. They even named him their Man of the Match.
Tchani Makes Fast Friends
If they were handing out grade school report cards after Chicago’s 4-0 dismantling of Louisville City, Tony Tchani’s might read like this: Works Hard. Doesn’t Make Friends Easily. The Cameroon-born midfielder was scythed down in the 84th minute by Kyle Smith, who promptly received a straight red card for the offense. Tchani hardly had time to dust himself down before he appeared to be punched off the ball by Magnus Rasmussen, who joined his teammate in the locker room for an early bath. While there’s no doubting Tchani’s qualities and graft as a player, his people-skills may need a little improvement before the end of the marking-period.
(Ureña's long wait for a first LAFC goal paid off against the Portland Timbers)
Early to Rise
There’s something to be said for getting started early. There was no procrastination about Philadelphia Union or Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. It took only three minutes for captain Alejandro Bedoya to toe-poke the Union into a 1-0 lead against Orlando City in Chester, PA (it would stay that way to the end). For the defending champs from KC, tattoo-covered first-year striker Johnny Russell raced clear from one end of the pitch to the other to score a magnificent solo goal after only two minutes against Houston Dynamo (that goal didn’t hold up, however, and the holders lost out 4-2). In the end, we suppose the jury’s split right down the middle on the merits of getting going quickly.
Lou City Hit the Road in Style
Louisville City FC may have gone out on the wrong end of a lopsided scoreline in the Round of Eight, but their throngs of fans and well-wishers captured the heart of the competition. It was a sprinkling of a home crowd of just-over 3000 fans at Chicago Fire’s Toyota Park, but nearly half of those looked to be wearing purple, in firm support of their heroes and the lone remaining second-division side left in the Quarterfinals. Sean Totsch – a native of the Chicago area – had approximately 150 friends and family up in the stands. And goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski’s extended family chartered a bus from his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and had masks made of their pride and joy between the posts. Soccer’s not always just about diagonal runs – sometimes you have to pick up your head to get the big picture.
(Louisville City - led by a trio of player-coaches and the last surviving USL team - bowed out last week)
A Fond Farewell
As always, we must say goodbye to some of the sides heading home. It’s the way of things but that doesn’t make it easy. First up, we tip our caps to those brave men from Louisville. They battled after long-time coach James O’Connor left them in the lurch, carrying on with a trio of player-coaches into the Fire and fury of Chicago’s Toyota Park. Lou City, You got guts and great fans and you will be missed. Speaking of great fans, we say adieu to defending champions Sporting Kansas City too – they’ll have to wait another year at least to lift their fifth Open Cup trophy. We say best of luck in the rest of the MLS season to Tim Melia, Ike Opara, Daniel Salloi and the gang, and we hope to see you soon. We’ll always have 2017…